Jimmy Connors Beat Gambling Addiction

By McCarton Ackerman 05/16/13

In a new memoir, the tennis legend reveals he would even bet on his own performances.

Unbeatable, but not unbreakable Photo via

Former US tennis champ Jimmy Connors has come clean about the gambling addiction that nearly "broke" him during the height of his career. Connors, who won eight Grand Slam singles titles in his career and was once ranked No. 1 in the world for 160 consecutive weeks, reveals the details of his compulsive gambling in his new memoir The Outsider. “I had a problem,’’ said Connors during a recent interview on Today. “I didn't know when to quit. I either had to break the bank or break me, and, you know, there's only one winner there, and it's not me. If I won two games, I had three or four. If I won four, I had to win six. So I'd just keep until, you know, I'd explode.” Connors says he would even bet on his own performances, placing large bets on himself to win Wimbledon for several years in a row during the '70s and early '80s. However, his addiction spiraled after he retired from the pro tour in 1994. "I needed that rush and I thought I had that when I was playing. Once I got away from the tour and had so much time, it started to grab on to me and affected a lot of things that went on in my family," says Connors. He credits his wife, former Playmate of the Year Patti McGuire, with saving him from going broke: "Patti would not let me do that." Several others revelations in his memoir have generated media attention, including his admissions of infidelity, and an accusation that his former fiancee, tennis champion Chris Evert, aborted their unborn child 40 years ago.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.